November 20, 2017
Old school: U-M in History
Tom Harmon (left), also known as "Old 98," played halfback for the U-M football team from 1938-40. The iconic winged helmet he's wearing made its debut in a 1938 game against Michigan State University. (Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library)
The University of Michigan's famed winged football helmet design dates back to 1938 when Coach Herbert O. "Fritz" Crisler arrived from Princeton University. Crisler had figured the helmet would help his halfbacks find receivers downfield. During the first game where U-M players donned the winged helmet, the Wolverines defeated the Spartans 14-0. Crisler had introduced a similar helmet during his time at Princeton, and his 1938 innovation at U-M was to paint the helmet maize and blue. Over the years, other U-M sports teams have adopted the winning wings in their headgear.